I took my CCA cabinet-making class to visit with Paul Discoe of Joinery Structures today.
I have the honor of co-teaching this class at CCA this semester with Paul: a woodworker for whom I have immense respect. Paul is an ordained Zen priest in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshii of the San Francisco Zen Center. He was trained and ordained by Suzuki Roshii and subsequently lived in Japan for 5 years working with builders of traditional wooden building. Paul has enlarged on this unique experience by working on many important projects since his return; including major buildings at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center and Green Gultch Farm Zen Center, other traditional building projects around the world and sumptuous private homes created entirely in the immaculate Japanese tradition. His recently published book is a great resource and a joy to browse – available from SF Zen Center. Here is a link to Paul’s lecture at CCA as part of CCA’s Design and Craft Lecture Series in Fall 2009 – available for viewing or downloading for free at iTunesU.
Paul showed all of us around his extraordinary complex tucked away off Grand Ave. in West Oakland – just around the corner from my much more humble studio. Here he has the capacity to accept a wide variety of trees from our Urban Forest, which he then then can mill and dry entirely on site. We started by looking at some of the furniture pieces that Paul’s company Live Edge produces and at some samples of the woods that people bring him to mill, dry and then work with – Monterey Cyprus, Deodar Cedar, Redwood, Black Acacia, Camphor, Elm, Poplar and Port Orford Cedar.
Then we wandered out past several herculean piles of logs sourced from around Bayarea.
He has the capacity to slice these logs with relative ease on a full bandsaw mill – The Wood-Mizer!!
And has LOTS of equipment to dry, resize and finish the slabs.
Eventually it comes down to handwork. Laying out and cutting joints with finely tuned handtools, assembling, detailing and finishing – all with a craftsman’s carefully honed senses.
Paul’s son sharpening Japanese style – using waterstones, on the floor, with great efficiency.
Thanks Paul!! For your time today, for working with us at CCA, and for honoring and maintaining great traditions.